We all love to live in fantasies – Imagine a virtual world to live, work, shop, play, and interact with others, all from the comfort of your couch – the metaverse is here, a simulated, colorful fantasy universe.
In the beginning, it was a pure science fiction subject, but with the advancement of technology, especially the internet, the metaverse has started evolving into gaming, online communities, and professional workspaces where participants interact with a digital replica or avatar of themselves
What is Metaverse?
Metaverse is a fictional universe where people are represented with avatars to communicate with one another and build communities. Users can use digital currencies to buy clothes or skins, pickups or items in video games, participate in simulated roleplay games, and even travel through the metaverse to sight-seeing.
The metaverse first appeared in a novel called Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson in 1992. But, you can find references from ancient mythologies. The “avatars” in Hindu mythology of Gods reincarnating the real world from a fictional universe is one example of how the concept of a fictional-real world existed. The 2009 blockbuster movie Avatar by James Cameron shares a similar concept. The digitized versions of ourselves at the core of the metaverse.
Technologies like mixed reality, simulated experience, pose tracking and 3D near-eye displays assist the user in immersive virtual world experiences. Augmented reality (AR) integrates real-time information about the user environment; besides artificial intelligence, social media, blockchain, and digital currencies are the other major technologies involved in the evolution of the metaverse.
People can literally “live” in the metaverse, but we cannot affirm it’s readily available to us, at least for the majority. Indeed, the metaverse isn’t ready yet. It is still evolving.
Key players in the metaverse
Meta, formerly known as Facebook, has spent nearly $10 billion acquiring VR technologies and they are planning to invest heavily in AR experiences to expand their virtual world capabilities. After acquiring Oculus, they ramped up their Metaverse plans.
Google introduced Google Glass, a wearable technology that would support daily activities. Google has also invested a bulky $39.5 million into a fund that invests directly in metaverse projects.
Microsoft closed a deal to acquire Activision Blizzard, positioning itself to expand its play-to-earn capabilities and eventually enter the metaverse ecosystem. Microsoft also developing Holoportation technology, which creates immersive and interactive experiences within mixed-reality apps. It allows users to enter virtual reality by themselves rather than as an avatar; users will be teleported into the virtual world as a photorealistic version of themselves.
NVIDIA, the world’s leading GPU developer, produces technology for laptops, gaming consoles, PCs, and even cryptocurrency mining rigs. As one might expect, the company is well prepared for the metaverse boom.
Unity Software is most likely best positioned on this list to pivot and capitalize on the Metaverse boom. Roblox Metaverse is already operational with 10 million users.
Tinder, Shopify, and Nike are some other companies showing interest in the metaverse. The metaverse economy is expected to be worth between $8 and $13 trillion by 2030.
Metaverse in the Workplace
The term “metaverse workplace” refers to virtual reality environments helping people to work from anywhere in the world. It is an immersive environment that can be tailored to user needs and preferences. Research has shown that metaverse workspaces increase productivity, flexibility, and creativity; metaverse workspaces also reduce the need for costly office spaces, rents, bills, and equipments.
The pandemic brought massive changes in the work culture. Remote work became very common which caused declining traditional office workspaces. Metaverse workplaces are promising in the post-pandemic world as they allow workers to connect from anywhere in the world.
Metaverse workplaces are scalable and easily adaptable. Meeting in the metaverse is enjoyable, creative, and comfortable because the participants do not have to spend time on make-up, save money from expensive suit shopping, and no more long boring travels, studio setups, and bookshelves; yes, it’s super simple!
Metaverse in Fashion
The concept of wearing fashion and boasting(most of the time) on digital platforms like Instagram and Tiktok is an everlasting trend. As this niche market continues to gain traction, the market is ready to embrace the metaverse to reshape the future of fashion.
Concerns about the environment and work exploitation in third-world countries are always a concern in the fashion industry. Virtual fashion can fix this; before their physical iterations are in production, metaverse can be used for modeling, sampling, and marketing, thereby reducing the overall environmental impact of a fashion item’s entire lifecycle.
When major fashion brands invest, digital artisans outprice global trends. Metaverse has a large number of independent fashion artists. Virtual fashion shows and virtual department stores are also becoming increasingly popular among the metaverse communities. Yup! the fashion of dematerialization.
Metaverse in Sports and Gaming
Metaverse is the future of sports watching. Fans will gather in a virtual sports arena with their virtual avatars wearing fan merchandise from their favorite clubs, socialize, celebrate sports with other fans, fight, and throw beer cans at opposing team fans.
Yes, perhaps. It’s also entertaining.
There are no longer any geographical or physical barriers. Any number of football fans can watch the Superbowl in a metaverse stadium with an immersive experience. You can join the game at Old Trafford from your couch.
The Atlanta Braves (U.S.) hired Epic Games to virtually-recreate their stadium. Manchester City (England) have announced similar plans for the Etihad Stadium, while AC Milan (Italy) have already tested their immersive broadcasting. With the metaverse, spectators can enter the field and walk alongside the players, join the football cheerleaders, and watch the game from various vantage points with multi-view camera technology.
During the pandemic, one of the most searched terms was “home workout” – the home workout and fitness industry has already started benefitting from the metaverse. Working out with trainers, coaches, supermodels, or athletes in various terrains will be an amazing experience.
Challenges for Metaverse
Essential technical challenges still need to be tackled. Besides this, cybersecurity is critical to the viability of the metaverse. Cybersecurity challenges come in various shapes and sizes. In terms of privacy, public blockchain transactions, and copyrights, the metaverse brands should affirm the trust. Blockchains are considered an ideal solution for proving the provenance of digital assets, allowing a creator to track any use or sale of their artistic assets using unique addresses and cryptographic signatures. But an invisible pixel or a cyber attack can change the digital asset into a different shape or ownership.
The pandemic completely changes people’s lives, the conglomerates and governments encourage their digital consumption and participation in digital communities. These factors led them to get far from the real world, the social media and digitization are killing people’s real lives and experiences. We’ve foreseen this in the movie Wall E, which depicts how excessive digitization results in social disaster.
Metaverse is starving for entrepreneurs to invest, techies to work, and artists to contribute. It opens the door to numerous business opportunities, including advertising, real estate, fashion, health care, entertainment, and many others.
Currently, we are seeing a drop in the price of Meta shares which has raised criticism from the media and many tech experts are investing heavily in the metaverse. Many doubt the metaverse is a big gamble when investing, but we still have to understand and evolve.
A generation is coming who are schooled on Zoom, brought up with Youtube and social media, and spend more time on screen than in the real world. So let’s at least not doubt or judge the future of the virtual world for the time being, as we did in the past during the social media revolution, cryptos, and smart mobile phones – we got many!